Blogosphere: Bill Gates (kind of) retires

Effective next Month, Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates will stop working full-time for the software giant he co-founded in 1975. The two-year transition period that began June 15, 2006 — when Ray Ozzie succeeded Gates as chief software architect — is over, and bloggers have been speculating as to whether Gates is gone for good. Officially, Gates will be devoting most of his time to philanthropy with the charitable foundation that bears his name (and that of his wife), but on Engadget, Thomas Ricker depicted an ongoing power struggle between the bookish, self-deprecating Gates and the more sonorous Steve Ballmer, who succeeded Gates as chief executive officer in 2000.

“Keep in mind that Bill will continue ‘working’ for Microsoft one day a week and serve as the chairman of the board after his so-called retirement,” Ricker wrote. “And with Ballmer packing up Gates with a parting quote like, ‘I’m not going to need him for anything. That’s the principle. Use him, yes, need him, no,’ well, let’s just say things don’t seem 100 per cent resolved.”

At “Beyond Search,” Stephen Arnold wondered whether Gates’ continued involvement with Microsoft has something to do with its now-abandoned bid to acquire Yahoo and its efforts to compete with Google. “Maybe search is the reason that Mr. Gates can’t retire,” Arnold wrote. “The Fast Search & Transfer acquisition, the dismal performance relative to Google of MSN and search, and the land-office business companies selling an alternative to SharePoint search put a hitch in the get-along.”

Arnold also asked whether the 20 per cent (of his working hours Gates says he plans to spend at Microsoft) is “the first signal that the leadership of Mr. Ballmer does not have the desired batting average.”

An anonymous blogger on Windowsup suggests Gates won’t be taking his fingers out of the Microsoft pie any time soon. “Every public appearance by Gates over the past 12 months has been touted as his ‘final (fill in the blank) ever” — until, inevitably, he shows up again somewhere else,” the blogger wrote. “Despite all the talk of retirement, Gates won’t truly be gone from Redmond.” But the blogger adds now is a good time to judge Gates and his impact on the IT industry “from a historical perspective” and said Gates — along with Apple CEO Steve Jobs — is one of the two most widely recognized personalities in IT.

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